AN ex-Labour MP has called Anas Sarwar “grovelling and pathetic” after he made excuses for his MPs voting against a ceasefire in Gaza in Westminster while his MSPs will be told to back one in Holyrood.

Keir Starmer was hit by a wave of resignations from his top team on Wednesday after they backed SNP calls for a ceasefire in the Middle East.

Jess Phillips was the most high-profile MP to defy Starmer and quit as shadow domestic violence minister. Yasmin Qureshi also quit as shadow minister for women and equalities and Afzal Khan quit as shadow exports minister as they all voted with the SNP.

Starmer had previously made it clear any frontbenchers who defied the whip would be sacked.

READ MORE: When Labour and Tories use the same tactics, we're heading for crisis

Both Scottish Labour MPs, Ian Murray and Michael Shanks, toed the party line by abstaining on the SNP vote and backing Labour's amendment, which instead called for longer humanitarian pauses. 

Ahead of the vote, Anas Sarwar – who came out in support of a ceasefire a few weeks ago - appeared to make excuses for Murray and Shanks voting with Starmer all while stressing his MSPs would vote for the Scottish Parliament to call for a ceasefire next week.

Les Huckfield (below), who was a Labour MP for 16 years and an MEP for five, said Scottish Labour had been exposed as “the great pretenders” after its campaign during the Rutherglen by-election promised voters a “fresh start”.

He branded Sarwar’s speech the most “pathetic” he’d heard in 60 years of politics.

He said: “This vote has exposed Scottish Labour as the great pretenders.

“Following two months of campaigning in Rutherglen offering a fresh start, the whole of Scotland can now see that Scottish Labour on the wrong side of history asks for a ceasefire in Holyrood whereas it dare not vote for one in London.

“As Israeli bombs kill newborn babies and hospitals become morgues and cemeteries, Scottish Labour has to ask permission to vote for a ceasefire. When that permission gets refused, its leader offers the most supine, grovelling and pathetic explanation I’ve heard during 60 years of politics.

The National:

“Some of us remember the record company His Master’s Voice with its logo of a dog barking when it heard its owner’s voice on the old fashioned gramophone.

“Sarwar statement shows he still has to listen to a London recording before he dare speak for himself."

The SNP amendment was ultimately voted down in the end, but a total of 56 Labour MPs voted with them exposing huge cracks in the party.

Huckfield – who quit the party in 2003 and now supports Scottish independence - added that it would have made more political sense for Sarwar to say “nothing at all” after putting out a video of himself calling for a ceasefire on social media.

“To say that one week and then to make that almost inexplicable and unintelligible comment about the fact that Labour had changed its amendment so it was okay not to vote for a ceasefire, you just can’t run that alongside what he said two weeks ago. I think London must’ve got on the phone,” he added.

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf slams Scottish Labour MPs' refusal to back Gaza ceasefire

During an interview on Wednesday, Sarwar said: “I think the wider challenge is - for those of us who want a ceasefire – how do we create the conditions to make it a reality?

"The tragedy we have right now is Benjamin Netanyahu has made it clear he is not willing to countenance a ceasefire, Hamas have made clear they are not willing to countenance a ceasefire, so how do we work with international partners to create the conditions on the ground to be able to achieve a ceasefire?”

That was before he said the Holyrood group would be voting “in line with the principles I have set out” adding “I want to see a ceasefire”.

A debate will take place in Holyrood next Tuesday, with the motion up for a vote to be published on Monday.